I haven’t been home for a full weekend for several weeks and with a mostly caught up to do list, I decided to take a weekend off. What does that mean? I read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire and crocheted while watching reruns of The West Wing. I cooked some good meals and baked scones. I meditated and did most of the laundry.
But now I am back at work a bit…it is Spring Break somewhere in the world, right? And I didn’t want to miss Opening Day. I do not have the passion for baseball that some of my friends do but I appreciate its calm cerebral pacing and would love to learn to fill out a score sheet. Perhaps a retirement plan?
For now, a few visual reminders of the nation’s pass time, discovered at the Digital Public Library of America. The collage is all public domain imagery including the sheet music.
The two postcards are from the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library. I have a few old postcards but none as beautiful and evocative as these. And, they are listed as having no known copyright restrictions.
As a community rep for the Digital Public Library of America, one of my main roles is to get the word out about this amazing portal for research and learning. I came upon it as part of some reading I was doing about libraries in preparation for a presentation to a regional librarians’ group here in the state.
John Palfrey, author of BiblioTech, was one of the founders. His book was a rallying cry for libraries in general to continue to offer traditional services even as they find ways to expand their outreach and create learning centers for communities.
The Digital Public Library of America site is a thoughtful and powerful example of how we can use computers and networks to pull together disparate data in easily accessible–and sometimes quirky–ways. I wrote about the DPLA earlier this year, having fun with the search by color function.
The DPLA are actively curating materials for teachers and students as part of their primary source sets. The sets are designed to help students in grades 6-12 and college develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. The sets are diverse in topics and people with collections related to everything from poets like Maya Angelou to the lives of women in the Civil War. In one of those lovely little serendipitous web events, I was surprised to find a set of materials organized around Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a book I just finished reading. The book is autobiographical and the materials, including excerpts from an interview with Alexie and photos of the Spokane Indian reservation, help provide some connections for readers. We tend to think about the reservation system as something in the past: Alexie’s book and these primary source documents remind us that many Native Americans still live on reservations, struggling to find the balance that Junior, Alexie’s hero, describes so eloquently with his own words and comics.
I had the chance to be part of two events last week: EdTech 2016 and the VAASL Rappahannock Regional meeting. At the latter, I provided a short keynote around the theme of “Librarians on the Edge.” The event provided me with a huge learning opportunity…I read several books, browsed lots and lots of library related websites and explored the world of contemporary librarianship. It was fun and fascinating all at the same time. You can check out the slides as well as the various resources I collected in Coggle and Diigo here. I used the image on the left for my opening: The Librarian by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
I also have a new volunteer job that arose from this research: I am part of the newest group of community reps for the Digital Public Library of America. I wrote about the DPLA earlier this year and can’t wait to continue to spread the word about this amazing resource.
It seems as though everything from Twitter to higher education to libraries is dying.
Twitter seems to be having trouble keeping leadership and rumors abound of changes that will turn it into something non-Twitter. But in a recent commentary in The New Republic, Navneet Alang argues that while Twitter the company may go away, Twitter the practice will remain, engrained as it is in our culture. I felt a little better.
Alang begins the essay with this observation, “The tech press is obsessed with calling things dead.” I’m not sure it’s just the tech press; everyone seems a bit obsessed with what our networked digital world is going to kill.*
Face to face universities have been dying for a long time now: killed off by online education and MOOCs. But in his reflection on a recent higher ed conference, Joshua Kim suggests that there is a disconnect between the narrative of dying and what is actually happening on the ground. There are challenges, he says, but there are also innovations that are making higher ed better than ever:
The multitude of small innovations and experiments within our colleges and universities seldom get attention. An active learning classroom redesign here – a new program for first generation students there – these initiatives seldom cohere into a larger narrative.But all these small innovations add up.
And physical libraries are also innovating, changing to meet the demands of their particular constituents. From makerspaces to computer classes to seed lending, libraries, like higher ed, are pushing back against the narrative of their demise.
*A quick thank you to Jon Becker for sharing this article via Diigo.
I’m prepping a talk about “Librarians on the Edge” for a group of school librarians here in Virginia. Part of that prep includes reading BiblioTECH by John Palfrey, founding director of the Digital Public Library of America. I’ve spent a good bit of the morning browsing the DPLA website and am most fascinated by the app that allows you to search the site by color. Called Color Browse, the app was built by Chad Nelson who, like most humble programmers, adds all sorts of qualifiers (it’s alpha, there’s code to be cleaned up, etc.) to what is a very cool way to do a search, mainly because you get this amazing cross section of resources.
I chose yellow and besides the postcard below was directed to several copies of a magazine from North Carolina and admission tickets to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment.
Choosing saddle brown led to a motherlode of books, including Archer’s Barbecue Scrapbook, a collection of handbills and news articles about events where Archer’s Barbecue of Albemarle was featured.